DeSantis Moves Against Climate Change Battle

Governor signs legislation to 'keep windmills off our beaches,' alters wording in state law
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2024 7:15 PM CDT
'Climate Change' Comes Out of Florida Law
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Governor's Day luncheon, Feb. 8, 2024, in Tampa, Fla. Climate change will be a lesser priority in Florida and largely disappear from state statutes under legislation signed Wednesday, May 15 by Gov. DeSantis, which also bans power-generating wind turbines...   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

Gov. Ron DeSantis can't eliminate climate change as an issue, but he acted Wednesday to take it out of Florida government. The Republican signed legislation removing most references to climate change in state law and barring its use as a priority in setting energy policy, the Washington Post reports. "It goes further than any other state has gone in repealing its existing climate laws," said Michael Gerrard of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University—despite Florida's vulnerability to climate change, including the risk of rising sea levels. "They should be the last state to stand in the way of fighting climate change," Gerrard told CNN.

  • The changes: Offshore wind turbines in state waters now are prohibited, and regulations on natural gas pipelines are weakened. The state government can buy vehicles without considering their fuel efficiency. State officials no longer have authority to set goals for increasing renewable energy. Agencies making purchases no longer have to consult a list of "climate-friendly" products.

  • The divisions: Backers argue the law will lead to increased energy affordability, which they say is threatened in the state by excessive regulation, per the Post. Opponents say the measure is an example of DeSantis using an issue to fire up culture wars and gain attention. Much of the content of the law is symbolic, they say: Florida isn't breezy enough to be a hotbed of wind turbines.
  • The rhetoric: "The legislation I signed today [will] keep windmills off our beaches, gas in our tanks, and China out of our state," DeSantis said, per Florida's Voice, a supportive outlet. "We're restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots."
  • Signs of a disconnect: Experts and advocates say the legislation is out of sync with the state's voters. A survey found that 90% of Floridians acknowledge that climate change is happening, and 69% support the state acting to curb it. And Republican legislators, who rule the Capitol, have allocated big spending to address the effects of climate change, including strengthening infrastructure in light of rising sea levels. A news release from the governor's office last year touted $1.1 billion in such spending, per CNN.
(More Florida stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.